I’m heading full speed ahead toward the big 6 0 and this is one of the few times in my life when I’ve tried to be engaged in government affairs and how the action of the federal government shapes personal lives and history in general. Quite frankly, I don’t like it. Yes, I’ve voted regularly in national elections in the past, not so much in local elections. However, much of the time I was voting against someone or something instead of voting for someone or something. That’s never good. And yes, I would suspect folks would label me as a conservative.
What concerns me about engagement is what you learn. You learn there are different standards for those in Washington DC and the rest of the world. You learn that politicians, in general, really don’t listen to their constituents unless it happens to be an election year. You learn that it’s all about control. If a particular party controls a branch of government then the country plays by their rules. In this particular time, we are learning that the rules are more than partisan, they are down right in-your-face, personal, and often vindictive. For example, the current administrations attack on the FOX News Network. What has Fox done to deserve this dubious target? From what I have observed, whether it is opinion pieces or hard news, they have attempted to present the facts as they find them or as they are fed them from Washington. Then they make an effort to verify the “facts.” If that is offensive to the White House, then perhaps they should counter with facts not attacks.
I’ve also learned over the years that being engaged in local congregations can bring it’s own issues. I suspect that is why I find it hard to be comfortable or find a place where we feel comfortable in worship and Bible study. Some of the problem is a result of my getting-off-the-couch spiritually and thinking for myself when I read scripture and attempt to extract its meaning. I’m not content to have someone tell me what to believe, I want to learn it for myself and decide the merits of certain political issues. For example, when we were attending a PCA church and taking a doctrine class. I wanted to be engaged in dialogue about the issues presented, not simply acquiesce to what was being taught. That proved uncomfortable for many, including myself, and often bordered on confrontational. However, the seeds planted there have caused me to read scripture with a more critical eye when it comes to Calvinistic tendencies and the merit of such a theology. Which in turn has fostered an examination of long held beliefs that, on occasion, must be abandoned. That’s uncomfortable but refreshing in its own way.
I’m reading the Book of Daniel now. It’s one of the most challenging books in Scripture because of its supposed apocalyptic tendencies and it’s extended prophecy. Naturally, commentators of all sorts have opinions about the sitz in leben for the book and whether or not it foretells the exact year of the coming of the Messiah and what the end times will be like. This makes for interesting reading however I’m not certain those positions are always correct. Twenty years ago I would have swallowed it all hook line and sinker, but now I’m a bit more skeptical about what I read and whether it not it meshes appropriately with that the evidence shows. Of course, in certain settings and with certain people, if you offer differing opinions it is seldom accepted and one is often isolated as not being in step with the teachings of scripture. So much for being engaged.
I like engagement…even with its baggage. No, it is not all it’s cracked up to be – it can leave you scratching your head wondering “Why don’t they see that?”